Rangatahi at Ruapōtaka Marae lead the way

By Aroha Mane

Future leaders in the making, rangatahi based at Ruapōtaka marae in Glen Innes, Auckland, are doing their bit to help out whānau in their community. It’s part of the marae’s succession plan to encourage rangatahi to lead the way.

The toll of the pandemic means some whānau are out of work, in debt and hungry.

“We’ve got lots of work to do today -we’re making food parcel for our whānau here in Glen Innes,”  youth volunteer Awatea Wihongi says.

“No matter who you are or where you’re from, our doors are open to everyone,” 24-year-old Binny Repia says.

Ruapōtaka marae is part of Taumata kōrero, a collective of marae leaders who have created a food network to reach more than 200,000 whānau in need. With the support of their elders, these rangatahi are leading the way.

Traditional values

“Aunty Georgie Thompson has given me the responsibility of running this project. I pick up the groceries from Pak'nSave because I’ve got my full licence. We organise collecting the food, packing it into boxes and delivering it to whānau,” Repia says.

“There is fruit, vegetables, canned food, drinks, coffee and breakfast items. There is so much, even meat. Over the duration of this lockdown, I would say we’ve packed 1,000 to 2,000 boxes,” Wihongi says.

This project is also about instilling traditional values.

Operations manager Witeri Williams (Te Arawa, Ngāi Tūhoe) says their youth have an opportunity to learn a valuable lesson, “Our work here is guided by our Whaea Georgie. When she was young, she was guided by her elders, who taught her the value of compassion for people."

The local police are also supporting the cause.

Sergeant Tama Morehu says he and his team enjoy being part of the project, “It’s a privilege to be part of this project because this delta outbreak has had a major impact on the community. That’s why we're here to help uplift the community. It’s personally rewarding as well.”